Fort Ripley man faces murder charge in wife’s hit-and-run death

12 July 2023

BRAINERD While admitting they had argued the day of her death, the man accused of driving the vehicle in the hit-and-run death of his wife in Fort Ripley Township claims he was drunk and doesn’t remember the incident.

The investigation into 49-year-old Angela Marie McClelland’s June 25 death, however, showed Tony McClelland’s vehicle was present at the location and time of her death, according to court documents filed Wednesday, July 12, in Crow Wing County District Court.

Tony James McClelland, 47, was charged with felony second-degree murder with intent but no premeditation, felony first-degree manslaughter, and two counts of criminal vehicular homicide in connection with the death of his wife, Angela McClelland, on a frontage road near Highway 371 in Fort Ripley Township south of Brainerd.

District Court Judge Matthew Mallie set Tony McLelland’s bond or bail at $1 million without conditions; or $2 million with several conditions, including that he remain law abiding, make all future court appearances, not possess or use firearms or dangerous weapons, not use alcohol or controlled substances, not enter bars or liquor stores, be on an alcohol monitor, and surrender his passport.

As of Wednesday afternoon, he remained in custody at the Crow Wing County Jail. Mallie ordered a presentence investigation, and Tony McClelland’s next court appearance is scheduled at 8:30 a.m. July 25 in Crow Wing County District Court.

According to the criminal complaint filed against Tony McClelland, the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office received a report at 5:41 a.m. of an unresponsive woman lying on Legend Lane. Responding deputies found the woman had suffered significant trauma to her skull and had abrasions on her body consistent with being struck by a vehicle, and she was pronounced dead at the scene.

While attempting to identify the victim, investigators learned Angela McClelland had been reported missing by her daughter and confirmed the victim found on Legend Lane was Angela McClelland.

Investigators also learned Tony McClelland and Angela McClelland attended a birthday party at a residence in Fort Ripley the night before, arriving together between 4:30 and 6 p.m. and leaving at about 1:30-2 a.m. in a Ford Explorer.

Law enforcement officers spoke with Tony McClelland at the residence he shared with Angela McClelland on Sleepy Hollow Road in Fort Ripley Township. When asked if he knew why officers were there, McClelland said, “Yup,” according to the criminal complaint, and then proceeded to “vent about how (Angela McClelland) had ‘thrown a hissy fit … just like every other … day.’ ”

Tony McClelland said after the party while driving home, he and Angela McClelland had an argument, so he dropped her off along Matte Road, which is west of where Angela McClelland’s body was found on Legend Lane. He said he then drove home, went to bed, and didn’t realize Angela McClelland hadn’t returned home until the next morning.

After getting a search warrant for the vehicle and cellphones, investigators inspected the Ford Explorer and found blood, tissue, and a single strand of hair under the body of the vehicle. Tony McClelland told investigators they had not hit any animals with the vehicle recently.

When asked specifically about the blood found under the vehicle, he said Angela McClelland was being belligerent and he was worried she would put him in the ditch, according to the criminal complaint.

When asked if the blood found under the vehicle would come back as Angela McClelland’s blood, Tony McClelland said something to the effect of, “I couldn’t tell ya if it will be her blood.”

DNA testing of the blood matched Angela McClelland’s blood. A review of forensic data also contradicted Tony McClelland’s version of events about what roads he was driving the Ford Explorer after leaving the party.

The data showed at 1:53 a.m. June 25, the vehicle was traveling on Legend Lane, stopped, then reversed at speeds up to 20 mph to where Angela McClelland’s body was located and stopped again. The vehicle then left the scene, reaching speeds over 100 mph before returning to their home on Sleepy Hollow Road.

On Monday, July 10, investigators questioned Tony McClelland about the forensic data placing him at the scene and the suspected time of Angela McClelland’s death. Tony McClelland responded Angela McClelland had “gotten mad at him for looking at another woman and was grabbing the steering wheel,” according to the criminal complaint, but then said, “ ‘I don’t remember much after that,’ claiming he ‘was pretty drunk, too.’ ”

Deputies then placed Tony McClelland under arrest.


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